Iowa State researchers receive awards for Parkinson's Disease study

AMES, Iowa -- Two researchers in the Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology (ICAN) at Iowa State University have received awards totaling more than $4 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The awards represent innovative approaches to funding biomedical research in Parkinson's Disease by NINDS.

Dr. Anumantha Kanthasamy, a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine and director of ICAN, is the first ISU funding recipient from a new NIH Multi-Principal Investigators Award program. This award is intended to foster interdisciplinary biomedical research among multiple institutions.

Under this award, Kanthasamy will collaborate with Dr. Balaraman Kalayanaraman, chair and professor of the Department of Biophysics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in developing a novel class of antioxidant-based therapeutic agents for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. A total of $2.77 million in NIH funding will be provided to their project. Iowa State University will receive approximately $1.4 million from the award over the next five years.

Dr. Arthi Kanthasamy, also an ICAN researcher in neurotoxicology and a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at ISU, has received an award from the NINDS' New Investigator Award program. She will receive a total of $1.28 million for her work in studying the brain inflammatory mechanisms in Parkinson's Disease models. The New Investigator program is designed to support new researchers in transitioning to independence in their research careers. Arthi Kanthasamy currently researches degenerative processes in stroke models and also teaches pharmacology and histology courses to graduate students and veterinary medicine students at ISU.

"We are especially proud to have both Drs. Kanthasamy here in the College of Veterinary Medicine," said Dr. John Thomson, dean of the college. "They are each outstanding neuroscience researchers and their awards are all the more distinguished by the fact that the National Institute of Health funding is strictly based on scientific merit. To receive not only one but two awards for work in Parkinson's Disease reflects positively on the quality of research being conducted at ISU."

"We also commend Dr. Anumantha Kanthasamy for his innovative approach in developing an inter-institutional partnership to leverage the strengths of both Iowa State University and the Medical College of Wisconsin," Dean Thomson emphasized. "The effect of this collaboration will yield multiple benefits and advance existing programs for both institutions."

The NIH funding brings additional benefits identified by Dr. Anumantha Kanthasamy.

"I am especially pleased to receive this funding, not only because it supports what I believe is extremely important work in Parkinson's Disease but also because it allows us to recruit and train new graduate students in neurotoxicology and keeps Iowa State at the forefront of biomedical research."

"Both Arti and Anumantha Kanthasamy are outstanding scientists who have already made very significant contributions to their field," says Chitra Rajan, associate vice president for research at Iowa State. "We are extremely proud of their accomplishments and wish them every success."

Anumantha Kanthasamy is a Distinguished Professor and the Lloyd Chair in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also the chair of the Interdepartmental Toxicology Graduate Program and founding director of ICAN. His research in neurodegenerative disorders has established him as a leading neuroscientist and brought international distinction to Iowa State University. Anumantha Kanthasamy has made several fundamental advances as well as applied contributions that have resulted in two patents and the establishment of a new business in the ISU Research Park.

"Their winning these extremely competitive awards from NIH will allow them to take their research to the next level and bring visibility and prominence to ISU in research on neurotoxicology and neurodegenerative diseases," said Ted Okiishi, interim vice president for research and economic development at Iowa State.

ICAN was created to promote interdisciplinary research related to neurotoxicological problems in both animals and humans. Neurotoxicology bridges the scientific fields of toxicology and neuroscience and plays a key role in the health of humans and animals, as well as related health industries, the economy, and the environment.